Charlie Day on ‘Pacific Rim’: ‘Unlike my other characters, this guy’s not an idiot’

July 07, 2011 | 4:28 p.m.

Charlie Day. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Guillermo del Toro is a man of varied pop cultural interests — obscure Italian horror films, classic Disney animation and the FX sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” (or so says “Sunny’s” star, Charlie Day).

Del Toro has officially tapped Day for his new film, “Pacific Rim,” an aliens vs. robots saga set to start production in Toronto this fall. As a lovably dense Philly dive bar co-owner named Charlie on “Sunny,” Day takes out the pub’s trash and checks its rodent traps, an image that inspired Del Toro to cast him, improbably, as a scientist.

“There was one specific episode [Del Toro] saw in which I was shellshocked about killing a bunch of rats and it made him think about something the character does in the movie,” said Day.

Del Toro’s “big tentpole, giant, massive monster movie,” as Day described “Pacific Rim,” will also star Idris Elba and “Sons of Anarchy’s” Charlie Hunnam.

The scientist role will be a major departure for Day, whose part in “Sunny,” and movies like “Horrible Bosses,” the R-rated comedy opening this weekend, have relied on the actor’s ability to “channel the doofus,” as “Horrible Bosses” director Seth Gordon said.

“This role isn’t comedic,” said Day of his “Pacific Rim” part. “It’s just quirky. I’m really excited about it because it’s something very different for me. I play a scientist, so this guy can read and write. Unlike my other characters, this guy’s not an idiot. He’s a scientist who has knowledge of these creatures.”

Del Toro’s unique vision was what drew Day to “Pacific Rim,” he said. Del Toro “is a fascinating guy. I would have agreed to the movie without even having read a script, just for the chance to work with him. I like the idea of working with someone who has a childlike spirit and imagination, someone who is gonna do things his own way.”

“Pacific Rim” is due in theaters in 2013.

– Rebecca Keegan

twitter.com/@thatrebecca

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